IN RECENT YEARS
George still attends the opera and occasionally gets to meet some of the performers.
On October 6, 2007, George was stunned to find out that his lifelong favorite singer, Luciano Pavarotti, had died of pancreatic cancer at age 71. Some of George's friends (in particular Brian Collins and Jeff Sauer), who knew George's story and had accompanied him to the Lyric before, were well aware of how George had loved the singer since earliest childhood. Brian and Jeff both e-mailed George to say they had heard the news and to express their condolences. They both knew how upset he was by the news.
George was also upset with himself that he'd not gotten to see Pavarotti again in the years prior to his death. "I knew he had health problems," George says, "including that he struggled with morbid obesity. But I hadn't known that he had been battling cancer. If I'd known otherwise, I would have done anything to get to see him in-person once again." (The last time George had seen the tenor live was in the early '90s, before the Kochs moved to Illinois.)
Pavarotti's last live performance had been at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin.
George still continues to go to the opera each year, and over the years he has met many other well-known names in opera. He enjoys inviting friends who haven't been to an opera before, and on the Metra train into Chicago, he tells them his story.
The 2012-2013 season marks 29 years of attendance. George estimates having seen more than 200 performances in total (and about 75 different operas) and plans to see many more.
It is believed he holds the record as the youngest person ever to attend the opera.
His goal now is to eventually become the oldest person ever to attend, as well.
bizarre poster signed by the cast of
Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street